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7 What’s the Play Solutions

Hello! This article is a continuation of part 1, where I presented you a scenario and a poll, usually with two options, for you to mark your choice. Today I’m going to reveal my answers, and you can check whether your play matches mine or the public’s. I’ll reintroduce the scenarios as a recap, then give my pick.

Scenario #1

You’re playing an aggressive R/W deck with a lot of exert and a somewhat low curve (seven 2-drops, seven 3-drops, and two 5-drops).

It’s the end of the opponent’s turn. Do you cycle Djeru’s Resolve?

Answer

No. While it might be appealing to cycle Djeru’s Resolve so that you can find lands to play multiple spells in a turn (or some better spells to play), your hand right now is really clunky, and your best bet of playing 2 spells in a turn is drawing a fourth land, playing a 3-drop (which you have plenty of), and then playing your combat trick. The way your hand is structured, you have several 3-drops that are likely to get blocked, which means that you’ll probably have a chance to use the Djeru’s Resolve profitably in the near future.

It’ll be annoying if you skip your fourth land drop, but if you cycle Djeru’s Resolve then you aren’t even going to use your fourth mana, so I’d rather wait to draw it naturally, even if that takes a while. I think cycling here would be a classic case of “cycling to find what you already have.” In this case, you would be trying to get to a spot where you could play multiple spells in a turn, but to do that you’d be giving up the one spell you can play in your hand.

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Scenario #2

You’re playing the same R/W deck. You’re on the draw, you both mulligan, and your opponent keeps their card on top. You scry into a Plains.


Do you keep it?

Answer

No. This hand has 4- and 5-casting-cost spells, which means you want lands, but when you’re playing a deck like R/W you also want action. There are several 2- and 3-drops in your deck, and you really want to find one, even if that delays your 5-drop.

There is a cycling land in the hand, which makes it a little more appealing because it lets you hedge—you can keep the Plains, draw it, and then, if you draw another land, you can cycle the Desert. The problem is that this play is significantly worse if you draw a 2-drop (or if you would draw a 2-drop but don’t because you kept the Plains on top). I think the best thing to do here is to bottom the land and commit to playing the Desert on turn 1 no matter what you draw. This way, it’s like you’ve already cycled it.

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Scenario #3

You’re playing an aggressive B/R deck. You have 17 lands and 3 cycling Deserts, and your curve is overall low. You have two 5-drops and a 7-drop. You’re on the draw and this is your turn 1.


Do you play your Desert?

Answer

Yes. While I’m the biggest fan of not flooding out in Limited, the consequences if you don’t hit your land drop here are high, as you really want your 4-drop on turn 4. With only 11 untapped lands left in the deck, there’s over 25% chance you don’t draw one in three draw steps. If you do draw a second Desert, then you’ll probably want to play one, so you might as well play it turn 1.

There’s always a chance you’re happy with a turn-3 Splendid Agony, but I think most of the time you’ll want to play your 4-drop, especially since the opponent led with Forest and not with Plains or Mountain (which would at least indicate a higher likelihood that Splendid Agony is going to be a good turn-4 play).

There’s also the fact that playing the Desert will power up your Camel immediately, whereas holding it means it won’t be turned on until at least turn 4, and ideally turn 5. They’re probably not going to kill your Camel, but you might want to trade it with their 2-drop, in which case having the Desert in play is much better.

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Scenario #4

You’re playing the same deck. You’re on the draw against an R/G deck, and this is your turn 2.


What’s your play?

Answer

Mountain, Camel.

I think passing the turn with the intention of cycling Wander in Death is the worst choice here. If you do that, then you’re likely to draw a land to play Stalker, but you also need to draw another untapped land the following turn to have a meaningful play. Compared to playing the Desert and having to draw only one untapped land to have the exact same curve, I think this line is inferior.

That said, I think playing Desert (or cycling) here is a little too risk averse. In this hand, I want to maximize my good draws rather than minimize my bad ones, because the fail-safe of “turn-3 Desert + cycle” is good enough for me. If you don’t play the Camel on turn 2, then it’s possible you won’t play it for 3 or 4 more turns, which can translate into 6 or 8 damage that you don’t deal or, even worse, 6 or 8 damage that you take from their 3-drop that you could have blocked.

I think this is the closest situation in the article and I’m open to being wrong here, but I think that in this hand the ability to curve turn-2 Camel into turn-3 play into turn-4 play (if your third land is a Swamp or if you draw a fourth land) is worth more than the guarantee of a turn-3 Dreamstealer, which might leave you too far behind if you play it on an empty board.

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Scenario #5

You’re playing the same deck against a U/W opponent. You lead with a Camel and it’s now your turn 3 on the play. You just drew a Mountain.


Do you play Bloodrage Brawler? If yes, what do you discard?

(It’s arguable whether the turn-2 land should have been Swamp or Grasping Dunes, but it’s too late for that one.)

Answer

Play it, discard Splendid Agony.

I think you have to play the Brawler here—in some spots it’s conceivable to wait until you have a clearer picture of what to discard, but you lose way too much tempo if you do that in this situation.

As for what to discard, I think discarding the Swamp is too greedy—you have a 4- and a 5-drop that you potentially want to play, and your deck has three cycling lands in it for the late game. If you discard the 5-drop then maybe you don’t need the land, but then obviously you can’t discard the land. On top of that, you have a Grasping Dunes already.

I also think you cannot discard the Gilded Cerodon, as you then become too all-in on the creatures you already have and the risk of flooding out is higher. You’re playing an aggro deck and you can’t sit behind a barrage of removal spells—those are for forcing damage through, not controlling the game.

This leaves both removal spells. Splendid Agony is cheaper, but that’s not going to be relevant this game unless you specifically draw a tap land, as your turn 4 is probably just going to be playing whichever removal you keep.

If you consider what your opponent’s next turn is going to be, there are three possibilities:

1) Equipping Khopesh and passing.

In this spot, if you keep Splendid Agony, you’ll attack, they’ll block, and you’ll shrink their creature. This is a disastrous scenario to keep Splendid Agony in, as you lose out on potentially 9 damage since the Camel can’t attack, and I also think it’s the more likely scenario to actually happen.

2) Playing a 3-drop that can contest the Brawler (so probably a 3/2 or a 3/1).

In this case, you have the option of attacking, letting your opponent block and then casting Splendid Agony. If they played a 3/1 specifically, then you end up turning their 2/2 into a 1/1 as a bonus. But this is still potentially 7 less damage (depending on whether you want to attack with Camel or not. I would, but then if they block you waste your extra -1/-1). You could perhaps make an argument that turning the opposing 2/2 into a 1/1 is worth it since it means it can’t trade with Minotaur if it’s equipped by the Khopesh in the future, but you have the Dunes for that anyway.

3) Equipping Khopesh and playing a 2-drop.

This is the most unlikely scenario of the 3, in my opinion. If the 2-drop is a 2/2, then you end up in roughly the same situation as scenario number 2. If it’s a 2/1, then keeping Splendid Agony gives you the option of shrinking the current 3/3 into a 2/2 at the cost of 3 life, which is probably worth it. If the 2-drop is Oketra’s Attendant, however, then Splendid Agony is significantly better, as it’ll let you attack.

Overall, scenarios 1 and 2 are the most likely, and in both of them I’d rather keep the Torment of Venom as it stops them from blocking and translates into significantly more damage. If they have a second 2-drop that’s specifically a 2/1, then it’s a small edge for Agony, and if it’s specifically a 3/1, then that’s a huge edge for Agony, but I think those scenarios are less likely.

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Scenario #6

You’re playing a slow U/W deck. Your deck has 3 Farm // Market and a plethora of late game, including an Oketra, two 7-drops, and an Hour of Eternity.

It’s your turn 3, you play a Fan Bearer and your opponent responds with Tragic Lesson (for some reason). They discard an Island (not pictured).

Do you play your Cunning Survivor?

Answer

No. In a matchup of a control, late-game centric deck versus a deck that also appears to be controlling from the fact that it played 3 Islands and a draw spell, it’s unlikely that the game will come down to life totals. With 3 Farm // Market in your deck (one already in hand) and plenty of uses for lands, I think you’re almost always going to get to a point where you’ll be glad you can discard it to Market.

There’s some merit to playing it and beating down, especially since it becomes unblockable and hits for 3 every time you cast Market, but I think the 5, 6, or potentially even 8 damage you’ll deal with it will just not be worth the extra card in the long run.

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Scenario #7

You’re playing game 2 of the same matchup, and your opponent is, indeed, playing a very slow deck himself as well.

Do you cycle your Striped Riverwinder turn 1?

Answer

No. Most of the time if I have Striped Riverwinder in my hand on turn 1 I’m going to cycle it, especially if I already have ways to get rid of excess lands (the Farm // Market in this case), but I think this is a special scenario because you aren’t really looking for anything. There’s no pressure for you to add to the board as it is—it’s not important that you play a 2-drop, and the 5/5 hexproof creature will be much better than a random card in the late game. Given that the game is very likely to go to the late game (even if your opponent has a draw that’s on the more aggressive side of the spectrum you can stop it), it’s better to keep your 7-drop.

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Discussion

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